Corsets for women have been around for centuries. The exact origin of the accessory is not known, but can be traced all the way back to ancient Greece. They were originally only worn by the wealthy, but became a great deal more popular as time went on. Many Renaissance paintings make it known that corset tops were common during that period of time. In the beginning, corsets were very uncomfortable and rigid, but people still wore them in order to have the perfect shape.
The first corsets for women were made out of wood or iron. Later on, whalebone was introduced as a suitable material for this device. The trend spread to most of Europe and became a staple in many women’s wardrobes in places such as Spain and France. It was recalled that at one point in history, a Spanish Queen actually refused to loosen her corset until the country was freed from another country’s rule. This may sound silly when heard now, but at the time it earned her a great deal of respect.
During the 1700s it was common for children to begin wearing corsets at 7 or 8 years old. At this time, cane became another popular material for these items. Toward the second half of the century, tight lacing had also been added to the fad. By the end of the 18th century, corsets for women were becoming quite unpopular. They were made shorter, as in corset tops, or had been thrown out of the wardrobe altogether.
Corsets for women as well as men began making their comeback in the 1800’s. By 1830, corsets were widely available thanks to the industrial revolution. In the 1880s and 1890s, whalebone had become a thing of the past, with corsets now being made of satin and silk and worn over a petticoat. During this time, it was assumed that daughters should be laced tight if their parents wanted them to grow up to be a feminine and gentle. By this time, corsets were only worn by men to treat back issues.
The 20th and 21st centuries have seen a great deal of change regarding corsets for women. In the early 1900’s, corsets were still long and straight, but offered less padding. This created a less feminine appearance, which went into the 1920’s when curves were completely out of style. At this time, corset tops were being made from rubber, which led to the invention of panty girdles. Bodices were also constructed during this time, another fashion invention that derived from the corset. Today, many corsets offer a gothic look and are worn primarily by young girls and women. Most think they will never truly disappear from the fashion world.